Tuxtla Gutierrez’s thickly wooded jungles, mountains and valleys, coupled together with its traditional cultures and indigenous roots, have kept its look, feel and style very distinct from the rest of Mexico. As a result, the city has quite the extraordinary story to tell. Here are 10 fun facts about Tuxtla.
1. Unspoilt habitats
The state of Chiapas presents a unique environment. Though it is within the tropical belt, it has a high altitude that affects the climate. The hot and humid regions are complemented by temperate and foggy regions of the central mountain ranges, and these regions are famous for their cloud forests. The varied topography here allows Tuxtla to be considered one of Mexico’s most extraordinary landscapes.
2. First settlers
The Zoques made the first pre-Hispanic settlement at the site. They named the valley “Coya Cmoc”, which means “house of rabbits”.
3. The apple of Chiapas’ eye
Dubbed as the most developed, most populated, and most important city in the state of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez is also the capital and largest city of the aforementioned state.
4. An economic powerhouse
Tuxtla is the major commercial and manufacturing center in the state. Petroleum and natural gas fields in southeastern Chiapas, exploited since the late 20th century, have greatly increased its economic importance. Much of the corn, cotton, cacao, coffee, tobacco, sugarcane, henequen, and other tropical crops cultivated in the region are processed and consumed in the city.
5. In honor of Saint Mark
One of Tuxtla’s most important landmarks, and the go-to activity when considering what to do in Tuxtla, is the Cathedral de San Marcos or Saint Mark’s Cathedral – named after the city’s patron saint, Saint Mark the Evangelist. This whitewashed neoclassical structure is a must see, with a beautiful facade modeled after colonial lines. Cathedral de San Marco’s best-known feature is the magnificent “48 bells” that rings every hour.
6. History lessons
As a city famed for its rich history, it goes without saying that its heritage is best preserved in its various museums. A nice way not just to learn about its past, but a relaxing activity for visitors of all ages, is to pick one or two of Tuxtla’s museums. The largest museum is the Museo Regional de Antropologia e Historia – usually at the top of the list for any Chiapas activities. The museum exhibits more than 200 fossils from Chiapas, ranging from 10,000 to 300 million years old!
7. Shopping the Tuxtla way
Wide, busy avenidas are lined with miles of gloriously affordable clothes and shoes, many of them designer knock-offs at prices far lower than you could ever find in the US. There are upscale department stores, supermarkets, and suburban-style malls. And, of course, there are also several large, exciting traditional Mexican mercados which offer everything from seafood and sausages, religious icons and candles, to fresh fruits and local flowers.
8. Twin canyons
One of the most breathtaking views in Tuxtla Gutierrez is Miradores Cañón del Sumidero. It is a deep and narrow canyon located north of the city of Chiapa de Corzo and is surrounded by a national park, the Sumidero Canyon National Park. The canyon’s creation coincides with the creation of Arizona’s Grand Canyon in the United States. Here, you’ll get to revel in Mexico’s grandest tourist destination filled with breathtaking views and scenery.
9. Local flavor
Like the rest of Latin America, the basic diet is based on corn. Chiapas cuisine retains its distinct indigenous influence, and common ingredients include chipilin and hoja santa. Chipilin is a herb with a distinct and strong flavor and hoja santa is a large anise-scented herb. One interesting fact about Chiapas’ food is that chili peppers are used sparingly. Rather, it is commonly found in their condiments.
10. Tuxtla’s very own poet laureate
Poet Jaime Sabines – widely regarded as Mexico’s most influential contemporary poet – was born in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
In Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez is as close to a big city as you’re going to get. A busy modern metropolis and transportation hub, the state capital doesn’t overwhelm with style, though it makes up for it with lots of amenities and nightlife. Most travelers pass through either the shiny modern airport or the bus station on the way to somewhere else, but it’s a comfortable, worthwhile and welcoming place to spend a day or two.